Day 38: The Indus Valley

Pakistan is located on the western side of the Indus Valley, aligning itself with the oldest of civilizations, but the modern conceptualization of Pakistan is as recent as 1956.  The Indian subcontinent won its freedom from the British Empire in 1947 and through a messy divorce from India, which includes three wars and "two-state" political theory, Pakistan exists today as the second largest Muslim country in the world.  Fifty percent of the country is under the age of 25, which means that the future is important for this young country.  With more than 25% arable land, the world's largest irrigation system supplies the largest man made forest in the world.  It is home to the second highest mountain in the world and one of the oldest valley-civilizations.  Located at this historic crossroads, the food, with its silk road influence, will not disappoint. 

 Some of our newest members on the food journey realize that Ramadan is a great opportunity to hang out late with friends and eat great food, as they sample Paan, a post meal digestive aid.  Aga's offers some fantastic regional Pakistani dishes. 

Some of our newest members on the food journey realize that Ramadan is a great opportunity to hang out late with friends and eat great food, as they sample Paan, a post meal digestive aid.  Aga's offers some fantastic regional Pakistani dishes. 

Ramadan

Ramadan is the month of the Islamic calendar when Muhammad first received the Qu'ran.  Modern Muslims spend the month fasting from sunrise to sundown from food and water, among other things, and they break fast--typically in some kind of communal meal--at night.  Traditionally, the fast is broken (a meal called Iftar) with dates and some kind of milk (Some of my friends use camel milk, sometimes coconut milk, but there are many traditions out there).  Ramadan is a festive time culturally and a fun time to participate in the community life from a culinary side since there are many seasonal dishes used in the Iftar meal.

Aga's 

When I query my Indian friends about where to find the best biryani in Houston, they all tell me Aga's.  I have gone to Iftar with many friends and Aga's is definitely one of my favorites.  I had eaten here years ago and it was great to get back there.  There have been lots of upgrades and improvements over the years.  They offer a number of regional dishes.  One thing we like about Houston is that it offers so many kinds of international food; but it is not just the number of countries that is impressive, but the number of sub-regions.  Aga's represents a number of cities throughout Pakistan in their food.

Chicken 65 is a terabeza favorite, and we love to try the regional recreations of this dish wherever we go.  This is a comfort food that is served on the bone ("chicken lollipops" in the picture) and a deboned masala version.  Both are delicious.  Some places use wings for their lollipops, but Aga's uses legs.  

Aga's is known for their varieties of grilled meats.  Try their goat chops.  Some people have an aversion to goat, but if you try these, you will forget all about that.  

Agas offers a number of curries.  The goat curry is the best.  

Other things you should try are the Lahori fish, one of the regional specialties. It is fried and comes with a chili sauce.  Their Naans and Sheermal are also delicious additions to any meal.